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Remembering What One Knows and the Construction of the Past: A Comparison of Cultural Consensus Theory and Cultural Schema Theory

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Abstract

Cultural consensus theory and cultural models theory present distinct perspectives about the nature of individual and cultural knowledge. Anthropologists have not really explored the implications of these differences, nor have they examined these differing perspectives in situations where both are plausible alternatives. Through an analysis of patterns in how individuals diagnosed with diabetes and living in an Anishinaabe (Ojibway) community talked about diabetes and the judgments they made about the relevancy of culturally plausible illness causes, I find, for this data set at least, that cultural models theory provides a better fit. Nevertheless, cultural consensus analysis played a critical role in this determination. Some ideas about the nature of collective memory are examined in light of my findings.

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